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Handbook for Dragon Slayers
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Handbook for Dragon Slayers

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3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  928 Ratings  ·  193 Reviews
Thirteen-year-old Princess Matilda, whose lame foot brings fear of the evil eye, has never given much thought to dragons, attending instead to her endless duties and wishing herself free of a princess's responsibilities.

When a greedy cousin steals Tilda's lands, the young princess goes on the run with two would-be dragon slayers. Before long she is facing down the Wild Hun
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Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 28th 2013 by HarperCollins
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Middle Grade Novels of 2013
94th out of 371 books — 737 voters
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YALSA 2014 Best of the Best
32nd out of 85 books — 29 voters


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Community Reviews

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Misty

Previously: Saw the cover for this tonight at Written in the Mitten. Gorgeous (though now all I'll be able to think about when I see it was the discussions it caused on horse and dragon proportions and genetics (ish)...)
=D
And then: Just for my own records, my copy has 320 pages, not 240. 320 glorious pages.
This is 2 lovely, perfect books in a row now; I am decidedly in Merrie Haskell's corner.

Review:
A couple of days ago, I gushed aboutThe Princess Curse, which is sort of loosely connected toHan
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Jim
Feb 03, 2013 Jim rated it really liked it
This is a middle grade title about Tilda, a young princess who’s much more interested in writing her own book than she is in being a princess. Particularly given how little her people seem to like her. Born with a deformed leg that requires her to use a cane to get around, she often finds herself the target of whispers and gossip and general nastiness. So when the bad guy sets out to steal her lands and title, Tilda considers it no real loss.

I haven’t done a lot of middle grade reading–something
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Brandy Painter
May 23, 2013 Brandy Painter rated it really liked it
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

I was super excited to win a copy of Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell in a Goodreads giveaway. I had reservations about Haskell's The Princess Curse (my thoughts), but I liked her writing so much I was eager to try another of her books. Handbook for Dragon Slayers is a great tale of adventure, friendship, and discovering who you are.

Tilda is not the typical heroine of a princess story, even a rebellious princess story. She is
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Hallie
Okay, a few things about this book: if contemporary idiom in a medieval setting bothers you, you'll have problems. If you want either by-the-book avoidance of anachronisms despite the fantasy OR your more recently-typical "feisty" heroine, you'll have problems. If, on the other hand, you're fine with modern speech (as long as it's consistent) and you like the idea of a heroine who wants nothing more than to be in a cloister so she's able to work on her manuscripts uninterrupted by other duties, ...more
Katie Lawrence
May 21, 2015 Katie Lawrence rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
This was a fantastic fantasy novel that dealt with issues I have not previously encountered in the genre. Tilda is a princess who has been challenged since birth with a lame foot - something people in her town regard as a curse. Because of her injury, Tilda has been kept from many activities and many villagers mistreat or ignore her outright. While Tilda does face many challenges due to her foot, I loved that Handbook for Dragon Slayers is not too focused on her challenges. Instead, we get to se ...more
Rachel Neumeier
Sep 09, 2013 Rachel Neumeier rated it really liked it
In contrast to the earlier The Princess Curse, which was a 12 Dancing Princesses retelling with a dash of Beauty and the Beast, Handbook for Dragon Slayers is not a retelling.

Handbook does pull in plenty of fairy tale elements, though – the princess, the nasty villain who wants to take over her lands, magic horses, dragons, the Wild Hunt (I’m a big fan of the Wild Hunt). What an adult reader will notice that a kid would probably miss is the depth of research that went into the book: a pfennig fo
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Joan
Feb 18, 2014 Joan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fantasy lovers and or disabled youth.
This was the Schneider award for middle grades. The heroine, Tilda (short for Mathilda) is heir to a principality, one that has a lot more independence than many other principalities. However, she has a foot that is points inward as well as twists over so she has to walk on the outer edge of her foot. She only sees those people who figure she is bad luck. Her two friends want to fight dragons. She goes along after they rescue her from being kidnapped so she'd have to forfeit her principality. Th ...more
Miss Clark
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nafiza
Oct 18, 2015 Nafiza rated it really liked it
Merrie Haskell’s The Princess Curse is one of my favourite MGs so when I managed to pick up her sophomore novel at ALA, I was beyond thrilled. Of course it languished in my reading pile for quite a long while until one of my cohort who had attended ALA with me told me how much she had loved it. And that was it. I knew I had to read the novel and I pounced on it as soon as I got home.

And I did love it. Oh I loved it in so many ways for so many reasons. First there was the world class world buildi
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Stephanie
Jun 21, 2013 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Honestly, the elements in this book could have been specifically ordered just for me: smart girls, adventure, ambition, magic, and dragons! (Fabulous dragons!) So it's no surprise that I really liked the first half of the book, and I absolutely fell in love with the second half, when the magical elements really kicked into gear.

Tilda, the heroine, is wonderful - smart, responsible, willful and determined, with a disability that informs her character but never, ever defines it. Better yet, she s
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Kayla Eklund
Dec 06, 2013 Kayla Eklund rated it it was amazing
When I was starting Handbook for Dragon Slayers, I wasn't sure whether I was going to like it or not. It's a middle grade novel, and I don't usually read middle grade. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The book turned out to be enjoyable.

The plot was fun. It kept me wondering how Tilda was going to get out of her current predicament and what she was going to get into next. It was also interesting to try to figure out how she was going to get Alder Brook back from her cousin Ivo.

I really adm
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Amy Rae
I've been putting off reviewing this one because I haven't been entirely sure what I want to say, but I did finish it some days ago now. Which day is a guess at this point, lol.

Anyway, I enjoyed it, on the whole. I feel like it goes off the rails a little by the end, but I adore the medieval German setting, the fact that my bb St. Hildegarde von Bingen shows up, and the way Haskell tries to avoid falling into the "well, you were born a princess so obviously you're the one rightful ruler" trap th
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Zoe
Oct 13, 2013 Zoe rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens, fantasy
This book is packaged like a straight fantasy children's novel, but don't be fooled - it's a fabulous tale of a princess, born with a club foot, who is not ready to assume her responsibilities. She goes on a quest with some friends to find more information on dragons, and learns a great deal about them - and herself. Intrigue, cursed hunters and their enchanted horses, a smarmy prince who likes black magic, and a great coming of age tale. The moral of finding balance between your responsibility ...more
Amy
Jul 20, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
LCL Children'S
Sep 16, 2015 LCL Children'S rated it really liked it
Matilda may be a princess, but she feels anything but in control of her life. Since she is lame in one foot, her days are spent doing scribe's work related to the running of her small country, which she will rule when she comes of age. Enjoying a few days of freedom while her mother is away on a visit, Tilda and her maidservant Judith travel to a neighboring knight's home to help set his accounts in order, and to visit her friend Parzifal who is a squire there. While there, Tilda is captured by ...more
Elizabeth
Jan 15, 2015 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, middle-grade
(mild spoilers)

I actually like the "rebellious princess" trope found in Handbook for Dragon Slayers mostly because Tilda is rebellious not because it just seems to come naturally with the role of princess, but because a.) she’s afraid of what her people think about her and b.) she’s afraid that she can’t rule her people well. Give me that over random, no development, “I could never live that way!” statements any day. To make things even better, she recognizes that she has a duty, and she places
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Marsha
As a coming-of-age story, this one deals with the usual themes of rebellion, acceptance, love, honor, duty and pleasure, along with a dragon or two thrown into the mix. A lot of the familiar elements from fantasy are here—damsels in distress, dangerous dragons, , magical spells, menacing fey folk—but this princess is a lady of a different sort, yearning for a life far away from home…only to learn that running away from home can cause more problems than it solves.

At first, I found myself both imp
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Rebecca
Apr 19, 2014 Rebecca rated it really liked it
In early medieval times, Princess Matilda of Alder Brook wants more than anything to be left alone to be a scribe. She's not good for much else, having been born with a bad foot--people make the sign against the evil eye when she passes them. She also lacks a father, who went to the Holy Land and never returned. Now her mother has gone away on an errand and Tilda jumps at the chance to go help a neighbor with his accounts, not just for the chance to leave Alder Brook for a while, but because the ...more
Diane
Aug 01, 2015 Diane rated it really liked it
Shelves: theme, read-in-2015
"Ignorance does not make the wrong choice into the right one. And fate is sealed by choices."

Princess Matilda is duty bound to Alder Brook. With her father killed in the crusades, she is obligated to take over the castle when she marries or turns 21. Until then, her mother is regent and constantly lecturing Matilda about duty. But how can she be the princess? The people think she is cursed because of her deformity. They think it's proof of the evil eye and they either give her a wide berth, make
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Harold Ogle
Jul 16, 2014 Harold Ogle rated it really liked it
I found this to be a pleasant surprise: a children's novel with a number of atypical choices, enough so that it felt nothing like a typical "turn the crank, produce another book according to formula" juvenile fiction story. I've railed about this in many other reviews, but the thinking in children's fiction for the last eighty years or so has been that the writer has to get the parents out of the way in order for the children to have adventures, as the parents would obviously protect the childre ...more
Rachel
Feb 10, 2014 Rachel rated it liked it
3.5 stars. The book takes about a hundred pages to really get interesting and off the beaten fantasy path. But once it does, it is quite entertaining. The characters were fun, not deeply deep, but since the story is told from one character (Tilda's) perspective that makes sense. Tilda is a thoughtful, funny narrator who finds herself fighting against expectations, both her own and other's for her. She is also refreshingly willing to change her mind as she gets a chance to explore her world. Hask ...more
Carlos Gastelum
Dec 14, 2014 Carlos Gastelum rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-fantasy
Haskell, M. (2013) Handbook for dragon slayers. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

Handbook for Dragon Slayers is a wonderful fantasy book about a princess named Tilda. As a princess she has endless duties and responsibilities such as account keeping. In the story she is very passionate about reading and writing and becomes interested in writing her own book. Eventually her opportunity arises as her cousin imprisons her land and steals it from her. Luckily Tilda manages to escape and liberates herself
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Ms. Yingling
Feb 01, 2014 Ms. Yingling rated it really liked it
Tilda is tired of being the caretaker of Alder Brook, since her father was killed in the Crusades and her mother is off trying to get a betrothal for her. Tilda just wants to run away to a cloistered scriptorium and write a book of her own thoughts, even though her life is lacking in adventure. She also feels bad that her lame foot causes the people of her kingdom to make fun of her, and makes no one want to marry her. When she heads off with her handmaiden Judith to help Sir Kunibert of Boar Ho ...more
Mary
Jan 12, 2016 Mary rated it really liked it
Well, I cried. What a well-thought-out story! As my sister, the lovely deirdrea said, it starts a bit slowly. But the young teen characters seem very real, the nods to German legends (and a real-life historical heroine) are wonderful, and the conclusion is imaginative and morally and emotionally rather profound. Mathilde is quite a girl, and so is Judith, while th young squire Parzival is a brave and loyal friend. The kids, and good Father Ripertus, end up in a dire situation, imprisoned by a kn ...more
Jenni Frencham
Haskell, Merrie. Handbook for Dragon Slayers. HarperCollins, 2013.

Tilda is a princess. Tilda also has a foot that is turned oddly, which makes it difficult for her to walk unaided and also causes her a fair amount of pain. When her cousin kidnaps her and plans to take over her family's kingdom, Tilda has to assume the role of hero and savior even though she has never ridden a horse or done anything remotely heroic in her life.

This book was really adorable. I love Tilda's character as well as h
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Briana
Mar 16, 2016 Briana rated it liked it
Merrie Haskell is one of my solid go-to middle grade fantasy authors. I find most of her books enjoyable, though generally a little confusing when I look too closely at the climax and the magical details. Handbook for Dragon Slayers was no exception.

Protagonist Tilda, a princess who thinks she’d rather not be royalty because she’s certain her people don’t like her anyway, is a spunky girl who will appeal to readers who have ever struggled with responsibility. Tilda is certain anything must be be
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Michele Knott
I liked this book because of the character, Tilda. She is a smart girl, and a princess. Tilda was born with the condition of being splayfooted (I looked it up several times and I'm still having trouble imagining it. It's not quite a club foot, but the positioning of the foot seems to be very painful, esp when walking). Her disability is a curse, yet also helps her learn a lesson. It is part of who she is, however, it has created issues for her, not only physical, but also mental - people crossin ...more
Person
Jan 26, 2016 Person rated it really liked it
The book is written simply so that it is easy to read and understand. The main character can seem a bit unrealistic at times, keeping in mind that this book is a fantasy. I say this mostly because the 13 year old acts a bit older and is treated a bit older than her age during certain points in the book. This book's audience is 13ish girls, but can be appreciated by other readers willing to accept the book for what it is. The protagonist's insecurities about her leg provide added substance to the ...more
Jacki
Jul 26, 2014 Jacki rated it liked it
While this is light and charming enough, it would work best as either an easy intro to fantasy or an add-on to the reading list of a kid who has read everything else in the world that even includes the word "dragon" and wants more. Haskell brings in a few interesting folklore elements like the Wild Hunt and a few pickings from the carcass of the Siegfried myths, and it's also refreshing in this glitter-fairy-princess saturated era to see an author show the life of a medieval princess for what it ...more
Jennifer Shelby
This book was happily read and I found it both unexpected and delightful. The disabled heroine was original enough in a medieval setting; but Haskell's plot takes on a genre that easily falls into cliché with an entirely refreshing story arc.

Tilda, the reluctant heroine of the Handbook for Dragon Slayers, has a twisted foot that admonishes the people around her to protect themselves from the evil eye that they believe caused her disability. Princess Tilda feels this keenly, but never lets on.
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“Ignorance does not make the wrong choice into the right one.” 6 likes
“Birds have a powerful sense of home.” 4 likes
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